The High Cost of Chronic Diseases Worldwide
Are humans healthier than we ever were in the course of history?
While the state of healthcare systems has drastically improved and we’re living longer lives, there are some diseases that are proving difficult to beat completely—specifically, they are called chronic diseases.
This infographic from NuGen Medical Devices highlights the true cost of chronic diseases, and the pressing challenges we face in treating them.
The Impacts of Chronic Diseases on Healthcare
Chronic diseases refer to conditions that last at least a year, and up to a lifetime. They typically require ongoing medical attention, affect quality of life, or both.
According to the World Health Organization, chronic diseases make up 73% of all global deaths, and an additional 60% of the global burden of disease. This latter measure is an indicator of the impact of living with illnesses and premature deaths.
Here are some contributing risk factors for contracting a chronic disease:
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of physical activity
- Tobacco use
- Excessive alcohol use
Chronic diseases affect more people than we realize. In the U.S. alone, 6 in 10 adults have at least one chronic disease. They can also compound significantly: it’s estimated that 4 in 10 adults suffer from at least two or more.
So what are the major types of chronic diseases, and their implications?
Highlighting the High Costs of Chronic Diseases
Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are some leading causes of death and disability among chronic diseases annually. In addition, the lifelong implications of chronic diseases mean that there’s not only a steep human cost, but a significant economic one too.
|Disease type||How many Americans affected||Annual economic toll|
|Heart disease/stroke||868,662 annual deaths||$363B total cost to U.S. health system
• $216B in direct cost
• $147B in lost productivity
|Cancer||600,000 annual deaths|
1.7 million diagnosed annually
|$174B cost of cancer care|
|Diabetes||>34.2 million live with diabetes today||$327B total cost of diagnosed diabetes
• $237B in direct costs
• $90B in lost productivity
Sources: CDC, AHA
It’s not a surprise then that these three chronic diseases also account for some of the most prescribed drugs in America to try and combat or mitigate their effects on everyday lives.
Due to its high prevalence, diabetes is a significant example of a chronic disease worth exploring further.
Digging Deeper into Diabetes
Did you know that 1 in 5 U.S. adults don’t know they have diabetes? Here is a breakdown of the two major types of diabetes, including their different causes, symptoms, and proportion in the population.
|Type 1||Type 2|
|Caused by an autoimmune reaction which stops the body from making insulin||Cells don’t respond to insulin, so the body can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels|
|Symptoms develop quickly||Symptoms develop over many years|
|Usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults||Usually diagnosed in adults|
|5-10% of diabetics are Type 1||90-95% of diabetics are Type 2|
About 88 million U.S. adults are prediabetic, namely, at risk for type 2 diabetes. Potential additional complications from diabetes include heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness.
The Top 10 Countries With Highest Diabetic Population (2019-2045P)
Zooming out, the global population living with diabetes has tripled since the turn of the century, from 151 million in 2000 to 463 million in 2019. It’s also estimated that 700 million people may have to live with diabetes by the year 2045.
Which countries are at highest risk of having the most diabetic adults (aged 20-79 years old) now and in the future?
|Rank||Country||Millions, 2019||Country||Millions, 2045P|
|#1||🇨🇳 China||116.4||🇨🇳 China||147.2|
|#2||🇮🇳 India||77||🇮🇳 India||134.2|
|#3||🇺🇸 U.S.||31||🇵🇰 Pakistan||37.1|
|#4||🇵🇰 Pakistan||19.4||🇺🇸 U.S.||36|
|#5||🇧🇷 Brazil||16.8||🇧🇷 Brazil||26|
|#6||🇲🇽 Mexico||12.8||🇲🇽 Mexico||22.3|
|#7||🇮🇩 Indonesia||10.7||🇪🇬 Egypt||16.9|
|#8||🇩🇪 Germany||9.5||🇮🇩 Indonesia||16.6|
|#9||🇪🇬 Egypt||8.9||🇧🇩 Bangladesh||15.1|
|#10||🇧🇩 Bangladesh||8.4||🇹🇷 Turkey||10.4|
A significant share of diabetic adults worldwide will be found across Asia. Notably, China and India are demographically at the highest risk.
The Challenges of Chronic Disease Treatment
Since there aren’t really any “cures” for chronic diseases, medication is a common form of treatment. For example, many diabetics typically rely on insulin administered via injections at home.
However, this can run into issues of a lack of adherence. In fact, up to 50% of patients with chronic diseases can fail to take their prescribed medications. What’s behind this trend?
- High costs
The more chronic diseases a person has, their out-of-pocket expenses increase as well.
For example, for someone with 3+ chronic diseases, their typical costs can shoot up to 10.1x the baseline, namely those not living with any chronic diseases.
- Passive patients
In a survey of health professionals, 85% think that the latest technology—such as biometric measurement devices—empower patients to take charge of their own health.
This means that patients who aren’t using such devices may not feel the urgency to take their medications.
- Fear of needles
A significant share of the adult population is afraid of needles, ranging from 9-30%.
With a significant share of the population managing chronic diseases at any given time, there’s a vast investment opportunity around the world.
That’s where NuGen Medical Devices comes in. The company has developed a wide range of safe, cost-effective, and needle-free devices for self-administering medication.
This has the potential to disrupt massive industries, such as the global chronic disease management market. In 2019 alone, this market was worth $326 billion. At a compound annual growth rate of 7.2%, it could reach $490 billion by 2023.
NuGen Medical Devices taps into an urgent and global need for needle-free devices—with the vision to empower patients and practitioners alike.
Ocean Economy: The Next Wave of Sustainable Innovation
This graphic explores how the $1.5 trillion ocean economy can help fight against some of the toughest challenges facing the world today.
Ocean Economy: The Next Wave of Sustainable Innovation
Roughly 21–37% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributable to our current food system, which includes conventional agriculture and land use according to the latest IPCC report.
With the global population rising and more mouths to feed, now is the time to reconsider how we can tap into our global resources to build a more sustainable food system.
This infographic from Billy Goat Brands (CSE: GOAT) (“GOAT”) explores how the ocean economy—also referred to as the blue economy—plays a vital role in our fight against climate change and other environmental challenges facing the world today.
What is the Ocean Economy?
The ocean economy is described as the sustainable use of the ocean and its resources for economic development and ocean ecosystem health.
The global economic output of the ocean economy is $1.5 trillion each year. Here is an example of some of the activities and sectors that make up the ocean economy today:
|Harvesting of living marine resources||Fisheries
|Harvesting of non-living marine resources ||Marine biology
Oil & Gas
|Transport and trade||Tourism
Shipping and shipbuilding
|Renewable energy||Renewables (wind, wave, tidal energy)|
|Indirect economic activities||Carbon sequestration
Financing ocean-related economic activities will ensure the future sustainability of this vital resource, and help combat threats that pose a risk to humanity, such as overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction.
However, some experts say that there is insufficient private and public investment in sustainable ocean economy activities.
The Investment Opportunity
Investors have a unique opportunity to drive change through companies innovating in the ocean economy and be part of the solution.
- The ocean could provide six times more food than it does today.
- Seafood continues to be the fastest growing sector by 2030 with only 60% of fish available for consumption.
- The ocean economy provides a smaller carbon footprint compared to conventional agriculture.
The potential for economic growth will only continue to grow, presenting investors and institutions with a chance to add value at this crucial stage of development while making a real and tangible impact.
In fact, investing $1 in key ocean activities can yield at least $5 in global benefits—a number that will continue to rise over the next 30 years according to a World Resources Institute report.
The report also states that investing between $2 trillion and $3.7 trillion globally across four crucial areas could generate between $8.2 trillion and $22.8 trillion in returns by 2050. These four areas are:
- Restoring mangrove habitats
- Scaling up offshore wind production
- Decarbonizing international shipping
- Increasing the production of sustainably sourced ocean-based proteins
An Ocean of Possibilities on the Horizon
Plant-based alternatives will play an important role in alleviating the pressure on ocean resources, and technological innovation has been pivotal in creating imitation products for the consumer market.
GOAT provides diversified exposure to expansion-stage companies that contribute to the ocean economy through innovative food technologies, functional foods and plant-based alternatives.
“We believe that plant-based seafood alternatives should be available for everyone, everywhere. That’s why we spent years creating a seamless experience that’s nearly indistinguishable from their animal-based counterparts.”
—Mike Woodruff, CEO Sophie’s Kitchen
Sophie’s Kitchen is one of GOAT’s investee companies and a leading California-based manufacturer and distributor of disruptive plant-based seafood alternatives.
Go to billygoatbrands.com to learn more about investing in the ocean economy today.
Impact Investing: Building a Better World
While investors often focus solely on returns, impact investing introduces a way to also tackle global environmental and social problems.
Typically, an investor’s main objective revolves around building wealth and then turning that wealth into an income generator. As a result, financial returns are accepted as the default performance metric.
But what if investing could also address the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems?
More Than Investing
This infographic from BlackRock introduces the concept of impact investing and explains why it can be a force for good.
What Does Positive Impact Look Like?
Impact investing is a sustainable investing approach that combines the intention to generate positive returns with positive, measurable social and environmental outcomes.
To understand what these outcomes actually look like, here are some highlights from the companies that the BlackRock Impact Team invests in.
- 102,000 GWh of renewable energy generated
- 11 million metric tons of food waste mitigated
- 114 million individuals empowered with access to financial services
- 99 million people given access to clean drinking water
- 600,000 families given access to affordable housing
- 1.8 billion patients given access to affordable healthcare
These outcomes were generated in 2020, and help to make our world a better place.
The Three Pillars of Additionality
For impact investing to be an effective strategy, investors must be able to accurately measure the positive outcomes their capital is helping to create. A company may claim to be aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but its actions may not be making a real world difference.
“Alignment to the SDGs is not enough to qualify as impact; we require that companies advance the SDGs by providing a solution that is additional, thereby creating genuine impact.”
-Quyen Tran, Director of Impact Investing at BlackRock
Below is an overview of the three pillars of additionality that BlackRock uses to measure impact. In this context, additionality means an outcome would not have occurred without the company’s contribution.
1. Additionality From the Investee (the company)
A company provides additionality if its products and services address a need that is unlikely to be fulfilled by others. The primary sources of company additionality are:
- The application of leading technologies
- The deployment of innovative business models
- The delivery of products and services to underserved populations
Helping underserved populations is a powerful way to create impact. In 2017, for example, it was estimated that 1.7 billion adults did not have a bank account.
2. Additionality From the Investor
Investors can also provide additionality by empowering businesses to create positive impact. This can be done through five mechanisms:
- Invest with a long-term ownership mindset
- Engage with companies to help enhance their impact outcomes
- Invest capital when an impact company needs to raise more capital
- Bring much-needed visibility to undervalued impact companies
- Create a better marketplace for impact companies looking to go public
The effects of these mechanisms are already being seen worldwide, especially as awareness of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors rises. According to a 2020 report by KPMG, 80% of companies now publish sustainability reports.
3. Additionality From the Asset Class
Even with the help of private investments, the world faces a multi-trillion-dollar shortfall in its quest to meet the UN SDGs by 2030. Public equities have the ability to shrink this gap by moving capital towards enterprises that are solving the world’s greatest challenges.
|Private market impact investing||$0.5T|
Source: McKinsey & Co (2019), BlackRock (2020)
At $93 trillion in total value, public equities are roughly 20 times larger than private markets.
Building a Better World
Solving today’s greatest challenges often requires innovative solutions. Consider the fact that many regions suffer from a lack of doctors.
|Region||Density of Physicians|
|Europe||1 for every 293 people|
|Americas||1 for every 417 people|
|Southeast Asia||1 for every 1,239 people|
|Africa||1 for every 3,324 people|
Source: World Health Organization (2021)
An impact investing strategy will seek out companies whose products or services can help to alleviate this shortage. For example, the BlackRock Impact Team has identified a medical software company whose platform lowers administrative costs and increases productivity.
Cybersecurity is another area where investors can help create positive change—according to McAfee, cybercrime has become a $1 trillion drag on the global economy.
This risk disproportionately affects small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) because they have limited resources to protect themselves. Cybersecurity companies that specialize in servicing SMEs can help protect this important part of the economy.
The Time is Now
Impact investing is not limited to a single theme. Around the world, various social and environmental issues are capturing the attention of governments and society. Ultimately, what’s needed are innovative solutions.
“If your savings can earn a strong return invested in companies that are doing good for the world, why would you invest any other way?”
—Eric Rice, Head of Active Equities Impact Investing at BlackRock
By directing capital to the right companies, investors have the potential to generate financial return while building a better world.
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